Written by Ravi Sattiraju on February 7, 2017
Labor unions have done a lot of good for American workers. They brought us rights like collective bargaining rights, a shorter workweek, laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and protected American children by keeping them out of the often dangerous workplace. You might be considering joining a union or, depending on your industry, feeling pressured by your colleagues to join one. Joining a union has its benefits, but it can also constrain you as a worker and require financial contributions. Consider the following issues before you decide if joining a union is the right choice for you. If you face problems with your colleagues or your employer about your decision to join a union, contact an experienced employment attorney in New Jersey to discuss your legal rights.
New Jersey and New York are Not Right to Work States
Currently, 25 states have laws in place that are known as “right to work” laws. These laws prohibit agreements between employers and labor unions about union membership as a condition of employment. Basically, an employee can not be required to join a union. In New York and New Jersey, unions and employers are permitted to have such agreements in place.
Despite the lack of a right to work law, do not simply join a union without first determining all of your rights. You might not actually be required to join the union. Talk to your supervisor and an experienced employment attorney to determine your exact rights in your situation.
A Union Can Protect You
The purpose of a labor union is to protect individual workers by organizing as a group to demand fair wages, a safe work environment, and rights for union members. One of these rights is termination only by “just cause,” meaning that an employer must provide a substantial reason for terminating an employee. This leverages some of the power in an employer/employee relationship, giving the employee more power to speak up against unsafe or unfair practices.
You are Bound to the Union’s Decisions
One of the drawbacks of union membership is the other side of the protection coin – you are bound to the decisions the union makes. Even if you do not agree with your union’s choices or positions on certain issues, you are required to uphold the union’s values as a part of your membership.
New Jersey Employment Attorneys Can Help You
If you are facing problems at work related to your decision to join, start, or stay out of a labor union, contact our team of experienced employment attorneys in New Jersey at The Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C. We are one of New York and New Jersey’s premier employment law firms with a history of successful case settlements for our clients.